500 Days in the Wild

“We are tomorrow’s ancestors.”

500 Days in the Wild is an independent feature documentary about an artist’s 
ecological pilgrimage on the world’s longest trail.

“We are living a broken myth. We’ve lost our way.” Dianne’s journey began five years ago, when she set out on an ecological pilgrimage to honour the land, the water, our ancestors, and to search for the wisdom needed to protect the Earth for future generations, while simultaneously filming a documentary about the experience. 

From pushing 150-pounds of bike and packs over rocks, to hiking through flooded bogs, paddling the largest lake in the world, snowshoeing through dense coniferous forests, skiing across wind-blown plains, biking along pristine trails in all seasons, the trail beckons. “The purpose of 500 Days in the Wild is to inspire reverence for this Earth again. A new mindset; a journey of reconciliation ~ learning, listening, and letting go. At its very heart, that’s what this film is all about.”

A Letter from Dianne

It is an honour to walk in partnership with CPAWS. As a storyteller, my purpose in creating 500 Days in the Wild is to make a film that inspires a return to a place of reverence for the Earth.

Film is the most powerful artistic medium of our time. And I am called to make a film about the longest trail in the world, an umbilical cord of land and water that connects us all, and the ancestors of this land called Turtle Island who lived here thousands of years ago.

My projects over the last three decades have all been the result of blending my passion for adventure, art, and nature, including films and books on Everest and the High Arctic. This is the first time in my 30-year career that I have collaborated with an organization, and I chose CPAWS  because we share the same core values about protecting the land and water for wildlife and humans. It’s about protecting our Home, and finding what binds us together, not what rips us apart. We share in that responsibility with a commitment to do this important work in a framework of reconciliation.

In love and gratitude


2021 Update

Gemini-Nominated Documentary Filmmaker Dianne Whelan, 500 Days in the Wild

APRIL 2021 | Artist of Impact Update – Coming Home with more Questions than Answers

500 Days in the Wild is a feature documentary about an artist’s journey to look for lost wisdom on the world’s longest trail. A story that calls us back to a place of reverence for the earth. Whelan, now in the final months of her ecological and reconciliation pilgrimage along The Great Trail (the Trans Canada Trail), recently provided the following update. View film trailer here. View further details here.

When I embarked on this 24,000 km decision in 2015, I chose to travel from East to West to follow the sun as it led me back home.

The question I asked myself before I left wasn’t, ‘What is the easiest way?’

It was, ‘What is the most meaningful way?

This directional choice also meant hiking, biking, and paddling into a head wind most of the way with more hills to climb then descend. It was the harder way, and I knew that.

As I approach the end of the trail and prepare to make the film, the question again arises, ‘What is the most meaningful way?’ The answer is clear, In partnership. With the currency of love and human kindness that carried the journey through years and the thousands of kilometers back home.

The whispers in the wind, the interconnectivity of the trees, and the songs of the waves all sing reminders that we are One.”

~ Dianne Whelan

PowHERhouse is pleased to be working closely with Dianne as an Impact Producer, building relationships, support, momentum, and awareness throughout the film’s production and launch. 

In partnership with two incredible social organizations, you can now play a significant support role in helping us to fundraise for this project and receive a tax-deductible receipt for your contribution to creative impact through the artistry of filmmaking. Together, we can provide the opportunity for complete creative control to remain in the hands of Dianne as a truly independent filmmaker and her amazing team of producers, editors, interns, and of course, impact champions.

Read release as originally posted on PowHERhouse.
More about Dianne and 500 Days

At the end of the day, conservation is about people. It is only by connecting the earth to the people who walk it that we can protect the land that supports us all.

Filmmaker Dianne Whelan understands this fundamental connection between the planet and the humans who need it to survive. CPAWS is proud to be supporting her as she nears the conclusion of her current project: 500 Days in the Wild.

Dianne Whelan, 500 Days in the Wild

From Dianne’s website:

“Feature film 500 Days in the Wild is an unfolding story that ebbs and flows between documentary and adventure film, taking us into the realm of myth and legend. Indie filmmaker, Dianne Whelan is on a 5-year ecological and reconciliation pilgrimage along the longest trail in the world – the 24,000 km Great Trail (the Trans Canada Trail).

“500 Days combines stories of the land, the people and the communities she passes through. From pushing 150-pounds of bike and packs over rocks, to hiking through flooded bogs, paddling the largest lake in the world, snowshoeing through dense coniferous forests, skiing across wind-blown plains, the trail beckons. Dianne travels the ‘Old Way’, the slow way of the turtle,seeking wisdom from those that live close to the land, asking the questions “what have we forgotten?” “What do we need to know?”

500 Days is the continuation of an old story – the artist dropping out of society and reconnecting to nature – but it is also a new story, a realization that we will not survive traveling solo. 500 Days is symbolic of the 500 years settlers have been on this land. This film will challenge us to revisit our past, our connection to the land and its people, to find our inclusive story that will carry us into the future.”

Watch this video to learn more about Dianne and the motives behind this incredibly vast project, and check back here often to learn more about how CPAWS is collaborating with Dianne to keep Canada wild and free.

The Beacon Project

In addition to 500 Days in the Wild, Dianne is also working on The Beacon Project: a three part series made in collaboration with Indigenous communities along The Great Trail and is a companion piece to the feature documentary 500 Days in the Wild.

The Beacon Project is an exploration of the beacons that guide Dianne on her journey, and the wisdom of those that live close to the land. The Beacon Project engages youth, artists, Elders and Grandmothers in a collaborative process of listening and sharing, and ask the questions, What has been lost? What do we need to know? The films emerge out of this shared reflection and dialogue, and are an honouring of signals, guides, warnings and celebrations as we continue our journey into the future.

The series is being screened on CBC. Episode two was filmed in Saskatchewan and will be aired sometime this year (2020).

Episode one can be seen here.

The Players in the Partnership

Canada Day 2020 marks the 5-year anniversary of when Dianne set out on the incredible journey which will ultimately culminate with the creation of the final 500 Days in the Wild film.

Dianne will be stepping off the Great Trail later this year, and in preparation for the closing of that chapter she has chosen to work with three partners to support her film and champion Canada’s last remaining wild spaces: CPAWS, PowHERhouse Impact Media Group, and you!

CPAWS is a champion for nature and for the protection of all that call it home. They work with all levels of government – federal, provincial, and Indigenous – in order to ensure that Canada’s wild spaces and species are protected for all to enjoy and explore for generations to come.

PowHERhouse is a 100% Indigenous-owned social impact organization of global leaders. They build strong women who lead and amplify their media story to forever change the narrative of our collective potential. A natural partner for the 500 Days project, as along her journey Dianne sets out to honour the land, the water, our ancestors and to seek out the wisdom needed to protect the earth for future generations.

Perhaps you’re wondering how You count as one of Dianne’s partners in this incredible project. Dianne understands that no one person can manage in life alone, we count on the teachings of our ancestors, rely on the guidance of our family and the support of our friends.

When you make a donation to support 500 Days in the Wild and protect Canada’s wilderness, you’re helping make Dianne’s vision come to life!